Apple TV adds HBO Go, ESPN apps

Steve Jobs, the late CEO of Apple, hold

Steve Jobs, the late CEO of Apple, hold up an Apple TV device in this file photo. (Sept. 1, 2010) (Credit: Getty Images)

"Game of Thrones" and LeBron James are coming to Apple TV.

Apple announced Wednesday that it will add streaming video applications for HBO Go and ESPN to Apple TV, the tech giant's $99 set-top device that streams content purchased on iTunes and via other online services to consumers' televisions.

The HBO app will be accessible to subscribers of the cable channel, Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple said in a statement. Some ESPN content will require a pay-television subscription, while other video will be available to all iTunes users.


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Adding HBO to the lineup of Apple TV services, which also includes Netflix and Hulu Plus, may help the iPhone maker bolster sales of a set-top box that has faced stiff competition from devices such as Roku Inc.'s and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox. Time Warner, which owns HBO, and the Walt Disney Co., which owns ESPN, gain another outlet to get shows to consumers, who have turned toward on-demand viewing and are watching less scheduled programming.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said last month that Apple has sold more than 13 million units of the set-top box since it was introduced in 2007.

"HBO Go and WatchESPN are some of the most popular iOS apps and are sure to be huge hits on Apple TV," Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet software and services, said in a statement.

HBO Go offers subscribers to the pay channel on-demand, unlimited streaming of movies and the network's original series, including current shows such as "Game of Thrones," "Girls" and "True Blood," and past hits, including "The Sopranos" and "Sex and the City."

WatchESPN offers live streams of sporting events being aired on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU as well as exclusive online game streams.

ITunes users have downloaded more than 1 billion television episodes and 380 million movies to since the service debuted, Apple said, and they're purchasing more than 800,000 shows and 350,000 movies a day.

Apple shares fell less than 1 percent to $428.93 at 10:23 a.m. in New York. They had dropped 19 percent this year through yesterday, compared with a 16 percent gain for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.

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